So, after 3.5 years of devoted use, my Creative Zen Nomad MP3 player finally bit the dust last fall. My brother affectionately dubbed it “my Sony Walkman,” and yes, it may have been a bit bulky — OK, so it resembled a first-generation Game Boy, spinach-colored screen and all — but it worked. And I am pretty abusive of my portable electronics. I blame a rainstorm for finally doing in my beloved Creative.
With that untimely demise, I switched to the iPod my father got me for my birthday in August 2007. I have a bad habit of being automatically resistant to anything that receives an excessive amount of hype (ask my friends who love Harry Potter or “Twilight”), so I had taken a certain amount of pride in having a non-iPod MP3 player (and I managed my MP3 library with Winamp! Hello, 1999). So it took me a while to warm up to the iPod — and its brother-in-arms, iTunes.
In time, both won me over, though iTunes was the real kicker. I was finally using a robust MP3 library management application, and while I initially confused “robust” with “cumbersome,” I soon realized the power I’d gained. Sure, the Recently Added list is a great way of keeping track of what’s new in my library, a powerful search is cool, tracking play counts is fun, easy as 1-2-3 playlist creation is swell, and complete integration with my new MP3 player of choice can be quite convenient. But the real win for me is micromanagement of my music collection at the metadata level. It has been a true joy, and I say this with complete sincerity, to go through my entire MP3 collection and eliminate duplicate MP3s, flesh out crappy ID3 tagging, choose what goes on the iPod and what doesn’t, correct typos and standardize artist and album names. It’s like the most fun copyediting and fact-checking job ever. I probably could have done the same things via Winamp, but iTunes makes it so easy. And when you can easily while away an entire Sunday evening doing these things, dare I saw it makes it… fun? Yes, yes I do. Call me a convert.
One thing I still haven’t warmed to, however, is the iTunes Store. I am not a fan of DRM, and when something like Amazon MP3 is around, why on earth would I pay more for DRM content at the iTunes Store? I’m glad it’s there, but it hasn’t won my buck, yet.